Fireworks banned in 95% of Cottonwood HeightsJun 29, 2021 10:51AM ● By Cassie Goff
To view the current Firework Restricted Areas map, visit the Cottonwood Heights City website. (Photo courtesy of Cottonwood Heights City)
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
Many cities have been increasing firework restrictions as Utah continues to experience extreme drought. The city of Cottonwood Heights previously updated their Firework Restricted Areas map, adding a few more areas to the restricted zones. Unified Fire Authority (UFA) Assistant Fire Chief Riley Pilgrim encouraged the city council to consider implementing even stricter restrictions on fireworks throughout the city.
“I felt comfortable these changes were adequate in April,” explained Pilgrim. However, with the circumstances of the drought and ongoing activities this summer, Pilgrim and many other firefighters are concerned about potential problems related to fireworks.
Some of the areas added to the Firework Restricted Areas map on May 24 included: a gap between Danish Road and Wasatch Boulevard; the north end of Wasatch Boulevard; some of the neighborhood area surrounding Siesta Drive, Riverwood Drive, and Creek Road; and additional plots of land along Bengal Boulevard.
“I’m recommending more stringent restrictions,” Pilgrim urged the council to consider a similar ban to restrict fireworks as far eastward as possible. “There’s a lot of support across the valley to do something like this.”
Fire personnel throughout the valley have met with the fire chief and fire marshal, all of who are recommending more firework restrictions.
“We start having fireworks in these conditions near open space and there’s significant hazard. It makes it really challenging for us to do our job,” Pilgrim said. “The problem will get much worse before it gets better.”
Pilgrim informed the city council of an ongoing effort between cities in the area like Salt Lake City, Millcreek, Draper, Sandy and others to push firework restrictions eastward. Salt Lake City has banned everything east of 900 East. Millcreek is proposing to do the same and Holladay plans to follow suit.
If the city council implemented Pilgrim’s recommended restrictions, fireworks would be banned in the majority of Cottonwood Heights, except for the commercial area.
“What is defined as a firework?” asked Councilmember Doug Petersen.
Based on how a firework is defined within the Firework Restricted Areas map materials, a firework can be anything with an ignition source meaning all ground and aerial fireworks would be banned.
Councilmember Christine Mikell asked about how available the UFA resources will be for the Cottonwood Heights area over the July holidays. Councilmember Petersen inquired about the hotshot crews as well.
“By July, staff is spread out all over the place,” Pilgrim said. “The wildland crews get sent all over the nation so we could get a crew from California or Idaho. There are four hotshot crews in Utah. They are a national resource so they may not be here over the holiday.”
As Cottonwood Heights implemented a ban on aerial fireworks in 2017 and faced consequences from the Utah State Legislature, the city council asked City Attorney Shane Topham his opinion. He was hesitant.
“Whatever happens there will be pushback from various sources,” Topham said.
Pilgrim echoed, “There’s an ongoing battle to have more control in our own jurisdiction.”
Pilgrim brought up another point the State Legislature will probably have to address this year. Many of the firework vendors received their authorization to set up and sell fireworks earlier in the year. Now, as more and more areas are banned, many of the firework vendors are in restricted zones.
Mayor Peterson informed the council he had received an email from 68 homeowners in the city asking them to please ban fireworks and reminded the council of the home that burnt down in the city because of fireworks.
“We are in support of moving forward for a special meeting to put a ban on everything east of 1300 East,” Peterson told City Manager Tim Tingey.
The city council voted to ban all fireworks east of 1300 East (Ordinance 360) through December 2021 during a special meeting on June 21. Fireworks are now banned in 95% of Cottonwood Heights.